Bengaluru water crisis: Government to regulate private tankers

Tankers failing to meet the deadline would be seized, the Deputy Chief Minister said

D.K. Shivakumar | PTI D.K. Shivakumar | PTI

Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister D.K. Shivakumar on Monday gave a stern warning to all private water tanker owners in Bengaluru to get their tankers registered with the civic body before March 7. The tankers failing to meet the deadline would be seized, he added.  

“Of the 3,500 water tankers in Bengaluru, only 219 tankers, around 10 per cent, are registered with the BBMP and about 210 are being used by the BWSSB to supply water. Once the private tankers are registered, the government will fix the rate based on kilometers (distance from the source). The law states that water belongs to the government and is not a personal asset. I will hold a meeting with the tanker owners’ association after March 7 to fix the rate and we will assign tankers to every ward, set up war rooms in every ward and a helpline to streamline supply,” said Shivakumar, addressing a press meet following an emergency meeting on water scarcity held at Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagra Palike (BBMP) head office. 

For more than a month now, Bengaluru is facing severe water scarcity due to borewells drying up. With more than 50% of the population outside the Cauvery water supply scheme (piped water), the situation has become grim. The worst-affected are the 110 villages in the periphery that were merged with the core area in 2007 to form Greater Bengaluru. 

The water woes have forced the apartment complexes to resort to rationing of water and to buy tanker water at exorbitant costs. With growing demand, the private water tankers are entering contracts with residential apartment complexes and charge anywhere between Rs 1,500 to Rs 3,000 per tanker. 

Shivakumar, who is the Bengaluru development minister, said he was aware of some private tankers charging exorbitant money from the citizens. To overcome the shortage of water tankers, Shivakumar stated that the government would divert the milk tankers to supply water till the city tides over the water crisis. The plan of action also includes tapping into both irrigation and commercial borewells. 

“As on date, the city has 16,781 borewells. But only 7,784 are operational, while 6,997 have dried up. The BBMP, BWSSB, will identify new sources of water, redrill the old and defunct borewells and tap into ground water from the city’s outskirts with good ground water level. A total of Rs 556 crores has been earmarked for drinking water supply, which includes Rs 10 crore each to city MLAs, BBMP’s grant of Rs 148 crore and BWSSB fund of Rs 148 crore.” 

The civic authorities have been tasked with restoring all the defunct RO plants, while BESCOM has been directed to register the borewells used for both irrigation and commercial use in the city.

Currently, the Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board supplies treated Cauvery water to the city’s core under the Cauvery Water Supply Scheme – Stage I, II, III and IV, that has a total installed capacity of 1440 MLD. Shivakumar added that the Cauvery Water Supply Scheme - Stage V was nearing completion and by May this year, the project would yield 775 MLD of water to quench the thirst of the 110 villages reeling under severe water crisis now.  

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